Al Batt: Three types of naps for different reasons

Al Batt/Bluff Country Reader Tufted titmice store seeds, usually within 130 feet of the feeder. The song of the tufted titmouse is usually described as a whistled peter-peter-peter, though this song can vary in approximately 20 notable ways.

Al Batt/Bluff Country Reader Haughty but dapper, the blue jay is the self-appointed sentry for the yard. Blue jays are known for their loud calls, which can include a large variety of sounds, and individuals may vary perceptibly in their calling style.
By : 
Al Batt
For the Birds

The National Sleep Foundation says there are three types of naps. Planned (preparatory), emergency and habitual.

Planned is a nap before you get sleepy. Emergency napping – think a nap attack, combats things like drowsy driving or fatigue while operating heavy machinery. Habitual napping is taking a nap at the same time each day.

I thought the three reasons to put saliva on a pillow and call it a rejuvenating nap were: After a Thanksgiving meal, at halftime and when the sofa looks lonely.


I walked land miles in new hiking boots because I was unable to find a short pier on which to take a long walk as had been suggested.

My old shoes had become more duct tape than footwear. My feet are substantial, size 14, and the store had measured my dogs. I believe you get what you measure, but the boots weren't up to the task.

They were improper infrastructure. I didn't notice the problem right away, because I'm a male demonstrating a shortage in the sensitivity department. By the time I recognized the complication, my tootsies were tender.

I sat in my office, considering my tortured trotters. I wasn't licking my wounds because they were on my big toes and my second-in-command toes. I looked out the window to see a tufted titmouse.

It was the second I'd ever seen in my yard. The icing on that birding cake was a golden-crowned kinglet. That’s a regular bird of passage in my yard, but I could never see too many.

It turned into a good day, but I still had to return the footwear that I didn't have for long because they weren't long enough.

I needed to return them before the statute of limitations expires. Comfortable shoes are an important part of birding as they are of life.


"Are any bird species doing well?"

Habitat loss is the major factor in avian decline, but according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, waterfowl populations have increased by 50% and wild turkeys by 200% over the last 50 years with much credit given to the efforts of hunting groups.

Raptors increased by 200% during that period thanks to the banning of DDT and other pesticides. Red-winged blackbird population dropped from 260 million birds to 170 million in 50 years.

We've lost one in four blue jays and rose-breasted grosbeaks. Baltimore Orioles, dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows have diminished by one in three individuals in that time.

"Am I seeing more Cooper's hawks than I used to?"

According to Project FeederWatch, their numbers quadrupled from 1989 to 2016.

"How long does it take monarch butterflies to get to Mexico?"

Monarchs can travel between 25-100 miles a day and take two months to complete their journey. Some travel up to 3000 miles total and one covered 265 miles in one day.

The first monarchs arrive at their winter home by the first of November. A flight from Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport to Mexico City International Airport is 1785 miles.

Few monarchs take that flight. They roost in oyamel fir trees in a small area west of Mexico City. There was a monarch in my yard on Oct. 22. I told it to scram.

"Is it OK to feed bread to ducks?"

Ducks, geese and swans can digest bread. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says feeding small amounts of bread isn't harmful.

There are many Internet things that claim feeding bread leads to angel wing, a deformity of the wings. Oxford University stated there is no evidence of a connection between feeding bread and angel wing.

What research has been done on angel wing has shown inappropriate diet, heredity or lack of exercise are possible causes. Internet research did show more than 98 percent of tax cheats are bread eaters.

"Why are vulture flights unstable?"

A turkey vulture soars with wings held in a shallow V, wobbling as it searches for thermals or food.

This teetering or contorted soaring uses atmospheric updrafts to subsidize flight. Their relatively small heads make them look headless in high flight.

Austin is Bird City

Audubon Minnesota’s Bird Cities enact bird-friendly solutions that give birds a chance to thrive alongside humans. Migratory birds are a focus because birds don’t recognize governmental boundaries.

Healthy habitat in cities provide crucial resources for birds. The award was presented at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. With over 500 acres of prairie, forest, and wetland habitat, the Nature Center is a delight.

A friend, Dick Smaby, banded a 10-year-old chickadee there. A place good enough for that chickadee is good enough for me.

Fun with phenology

1. Milkweed seeds fly in the wind on silk.

2. Northern harriers, once called marsh hawks, fly low over fields and marshes when hunting. Harriers typically move south away from heavy snow cover.

3. Asparagus acquires a lovely yellow-orange color.

4. Buckthorn shrubs retain green leaves.

5. As more spiders are seen in houses, someone will tell a cab driver, "Follow that spider and step on it!"

Echoes from Loafers' Club Meeting

I went ice fishing yesterday.

How could you? There's no ice on the lakes.

I know, but I do everything the hard way.

The cafe chronicles

The cafe, which prides itself in having the stickiest floors in the five-state area and where if it dies, it fries, held an organ recital.

Folks sat around The Table of Infinite Knowledge and talked about their recent operations. They talked at length about which church offered the best butter transfer system, otherwise known as a lutefisk feed. There was even a floorshow.

An amateur magician of ill repute told the small crowd that he could disappear in front of our eyes and he did. He waved a magic wand (a soup spoon) and said, "Uno, dos."

And he was gone without a tres. We knew he'd been there because he left his bill for us to pay.

Who were you named after?

I taught a class on birds for kids. The youngsters were wonderful. They all had jackets because they still listened to their mothers. My mother was an advocate of carting a jacket around. Always take a jacket — it can be used as a seat saver.

One little girl's name was Zophia. It was a new name for me. I asked her if she'd been named after someone. She told me that her parents had named her after her.

Sounds like her parents are wise in ways beyond encouraging jacket toting.

The topic was food

My wife said, "I used to make that for Al all of the time, but I stopped."

My sister-in-law asked, "Didn't he like it?"

My bride replied, "Oh, no. He really liked it."

From the mailbag

This from Rick Mammel of Albert Lea, "Regarding your ear hair. If tweezers fail to yank that sucker, try a pair of vise-grips. Just give them a twist and yank."

Nature notes

A cardinal goes through a full molt in the fall. The male’s new feathers come with brown tips that wear away over winter, leaving them bright red in the spring.

A cardinal gets its red plumage from pigments called carotenoids obtained from sunflower and safflower seeds, apples, dogwood berries, grapes, raspberries, rose hips and others. Carotenoids produce red, orange or yellow feathers.

Minnesota has more common loons than any other state except Alaska. Minnesota has more nesting bald eagles than any state other than Alaska and Florida.

Meeting adjourned

We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.

Thanks for stopping by

"If you want a rainbow, you have to deal with the rain."— Augustus

"What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?" — Ursula K. Le Guin

Do good.

c. Al Batt 2019